How we converted a bus into a home on wheels in Dubai
First things first, welcome to the Migrating Mavericks site and our very first blog post!
Let’s start at the very beginning… October 2020 is when this idea turns into a reality. A few months after Dubai started opening up since the Covid lockdown we started looking for a bus. Unfortunate for the travel and tourism companies but lucky for us, traveling and events were still a thing of the past and there was quite a few vehicles for us to chose from. To keep a long story short we decided to buy a 2015 Zhong Tong bus with very low milage and simple but good mechanical parts. We had plenty of other fancier options however since we were going to travel across Asia we needed something that any diesel mechanic can fix if in a pinch.
Once the bus was transferred in my company’s name (in Dubai you cannot register a bus under a person it has to be done under a company, in our case Elena’s fitness company FitSetGo) we had it parked in the warehouse at the company where Peter was employed at the time. Massive shoutout to Wicked (you the real MVP) who let us use their space, power and sometimes even their crew and materials for the entire build, even 6 month after Peter had resigned.
Before we started the build we tried getting information on what the process should look like, if we needed any permits or anything, however no one, not even the managers at RTA gave us any solid information, besides telling us to make sure that things were bolted down well 😂.
Subsequently, the build and the most grueling 18 month of our lives started. We put our entire lives on hold, we went to work and bus and did no holidays, no dinners, no brunches, basically no fun in order to make this happen.
Once the bus was nearly finished, we took it for testing. The procedure for converting vans and buses in Dubai is that you have them tested at any RTA testing center and it is an automatic fail because the vehicle is no longer a bus/van but a caravan. In our case we went to Tasjeel Center in Al Warsan as they test heavy vehicles in this particular location (location link below).
The next step is to meet with the RTA committee, which is booked straight away at the testing center and usually happens within 7 days (We had ours done at Shamil Qusais Vehicle Testing and Registration Office, location link below). The committee’s role is to examine the vehicle’s modifications and give you a pass or a fail. Once that is done you will receive a message and an email saying you have passed the committee’s inspection. The committee inspection process itself was fairly easy. They checked the number of seat belts and made sure the exits were clear however they didn’t go into too much detail for the interior. For example we have LPG gas for cooking, full solar and electric set up as well as plumbing but none of that was inspected. It was basically just a walk through to make sure things were secure on the outside and nothing looked dangerous to other drivers.
After you receive the committee passing you can proceed to an RTA testing center again, for the standard registration passing process, however this time it is tested as a caravan (be sure the category and number of seats have been changed before registration). Once that is done you have to transfer the vehicle in your name, pay for insurance and you get your registration.
In the end the process was surprisingly easy. So, If you have always dreamed of converting a vehicle into a dream home on wheels but you are intimidated by the process of registering, please don’t stress and go for it, it is totally worth it!
If you have any more questions about the process or fees, feel free to drop a comment below and we will get back to you. Or hit one of the links below to stay up to date with our Asian adventure 😎
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